What corporate partnerships managers can learn from trust fundraisers

There are so many traits shared by fundraisers across the board.  We are resilient, creative, and socially conscious.

However, I’ve observed over nearly 20 years in the sector that there are definitely traits more common to some disciplines than others.

Now, I don’t speak on behalf of ALL trust fundraisers and I certainly don’t want to make assumptions or generalisations about my friends in corporate partnerships, and whilst I reckon that corporate partnership leads are AWESOME, here are some suggestions for those of you who want to inject a little trust fundraiser magic into their work (if you’re not already doing these of course 😊)

 Research and prepare

We trust fundraisers LOVE research.  Not just the obvious stuff in a funders’ accounts but also the wonderfully random information available widely on the interweb (Google – I’m looking at you).

Corporates require a more sophisticated ask than trusts and there is a veritable spider web of options for reaching out to them and getting to know them better.  Much more so than the, write application, send application, get cheque (!) route taken by a trust fundraiser.

Next time you’re looking at a new supporter, go deeper than you normally would into your research and spend some time mapping out:

  • Company activities, geographic location, history, competitors
  • Find their why – what is the problem they’re trying to solve?
  • Who are their directors, shareholders, senior staff members?  Are they connected to anyone from your charity?
  • Dig a little deeper to find out more about the decision makers at the company.  What are their interests?  Which networking events do they go to?   Have they written articles on LinkedIn?  What are their opinions?
  • Do they work in partnership with anyone else? 

All of this information will help you to form better partnership approaches and have better, more connecting conversations.

Outputs, outcomes, impact and speaking their language

Gifts from trusts often require more in-depth monitoring and reporting than those from corporates.   

Because so many trust fundraisers also have experience in grant fundraising, they are often really good at articulating and quantifying the difference a gift has made.

During a recent Bright Spot Members Club webinar, Tom Hall from UBS informed us that major donors (especially those who are self-made) expect their gifts to act as investments with measurable benefits. 

Leaders at the top of successful companies (and therefore the people that you’re seeking to work with) want this too because they are the same people.

To better quantify the impact of your work:

  • Spend some time with your project staff and finance teams. 
  • Work out how the benefits and impact of a gift have translated in financial terms. 
  • Seek to demonstrate that the return on investment you’re delivering is the best value it can possible be.
  • Articulate it simply and clearly – get a colleague (a trusts and foundations colleague?) to check your work.

Focus not on the activities but on the outcomes and the cost of delivering the work.  Rather than showing your prospective corporate supporter how they can ‘donate to a charity’, demonstrate how they can ‘solve a problem’ or ‘change the world’.

Be clear also on sustainability (loads of trusts are now asking this question). 

No one really wants to fund projects in perpetuity and charities are being encouraged more and more to seek forms on income generation to support their ongoing work (profit for non-profit). 

Be specific and a bit geeky when it comes to target setting

Trust fundraisers are often quite specific over their target setting.  Grant making trusts often provide quite a predictable stream of income and one on which many charities tend to lean heavily.  

The potential for repeat gifts from trusts is also high when you deliver on their expectations (same with corporates – think long term here!)

Know from your research and from your conversations with your colleagues at each company you’re working with:

  • What their typical giving is (is their COY partnership a set amount each year for example? What has their charitable giving achieved in the past?  Don’t know?  Ask!)
  • What have similar relationships with other corporates yielded for your charity in the past?
  • How warm are each of your relationships?  How close are you to making an ask and how long will it take for the cash to materialise (this depends on the method you’re using to fundraise)
  • ROI for corporate fundraising is low at the start but grows over time, £3 / £4 for every £1 spent is a good guide

Caroline is a speaker, online course creator and fundraiser specialising in capital appeals, trusts and foundations and major gifts.  She runs consultancy LarkOwl with her partner Tony.

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To find out more about Trust the Process, LarkOwl’s online programme for people new to trusts and foundations fundraising, visit here.

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